I miss a good flagship killer. You can’t help but feel like a member of the rebel alliance — paying less to take on the more sith-like companies that challenge you to spend well over $1,000 on a phone.
OnePlus is usually the go-to brand for this, but over the last couple years, the company has crept over to a top-tier pricing model, which has culminated in the OnePlus 9 Pro.
So, who will fill this void? Step forward, Realme GT.
One of the cheapest Snapdragon 888-armed smartphones we’ve ever seen at €449, the GT also offers a 120Hz OLED panel, a triple rear camera array, and a beasty 4,500 mAh battery.Can this really take the fight to its more expensive rivals? Is this the ultimate flagship killer? In one word: yes. But allow me to explain in this hands-on review.
Realme GT: Price and configurations
The Realme GT comes in three finishes: Sonic Silver, Speed Blue, and a dual-tone leather design called Racing Yellow.
You can pick up a base model with 8GB RAM and 128GB of storage for €449 (with an early bird price of €369). If you need more horsepower, the upgraded version with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage comes in at €599 (down to €499 right now as an early bird offer).
These early bird prices are available on the Ali Express EU site and, as you can see, the Euro prices translate to just £358.01 for the base and £408.08 for the fully loaded model in the UK (at the time of writing).
Realme GT: Design
When it comes to smartphone design, the monolithic slab has become the norm and the Realme GT continues this trend but adds a couple of interesting flourishes.
The phone measures 6.24 inches tall (158.5 millimeters) by 2.9 inches across (73.3 millimeters) and has a thickness of just 0.3 inches (8.4 millimeters) and weighs 6.56 ounces (186 grams).
If you select the option with a vegan leather back, the thickness goes up to 9.1 millimeters but the weight remains about the same . Whichever you choose, you are guaranteed a phone that is slim and lightweight for one-handed use.
The model I received has a mesmerising holographic blue finish on the back, which is fascinating to look at and provides an interesting depth that remains absent from the flatter tones used by many competitors.
And while the use of plastic in the design may feel cheap to some, for me, it was a breath of fresh air to not worry about the phone’s durability.
Of course, the Realme GT comes in different colors and the cool-looking racing yellow leather, but take it from me: pictures don’t do this shade justice. One problem is that the glossy finish is a fingerprint magnet (even though Realme claims it’s fingerprint resistant), but a clear case is included to deal with smudges.
Realme GT: Display
The Realme GT sports a 6.43-inch Super AMOLED display with a 2400 x 1080-pixel resolution and a buttery 120Hz refresh rate. The company claims it offers 100% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage and a 1,000-nit peak brightness.
Put simply, it's lovely to look at and use! Moving around the phone feels so smooth, games are so fluid and high frame rate video looks incredible.
One problem that may not affect everyone is a slightly cooler tone to the white balance. Firing up the Realme 8 Pro for comparison, the GT’s screen has a slower 60Hz refresh rate, but colors are vivid and rich.
On the GT, when playing something bright and colorful like Bojack Horseman, everything has a slightly cooler look to it and the contrast ratio doesn’t seem as wide.
Like I said at the beginning, it’s not a dealbreaker. An AMOLED panel with a refresh rate this fast is welcomed with open arms on a budget-friendly phone.
Realme GT: Audio
Another trend that gets two big thumbs up from me is Realme’s continued to support for the 3.5mm headphone jack in the GT.
Additionally, support for all the hi-res audio codecs, such as LDAC, guarantees the best sound for all your tunes — even for the lossless audio nerds out there using HD music streaming services.
When listening without headphones, this phone has a stereo-speaker setup that does surprisingly well at maintaining detail without distorting at high volumes.
The bass is lacking, making YouTube videos sound tinny (as is normal for phone speakers), but they’re perfectly fine for most uses.
Realme GT: Performance
The Realme GT is what they call a “performance flagship,” and Realme is coming out the gate strong with a beasty Snapdragon 888 processor, which unlocks 5G support across all bands for the phone — ensuring fast data speeds across the globe.
You will struggle to find a hint of slowdown in real-world use, and for those who like to see their pride and joy in action on Geekbench, you’ll be happy to know this phone annihilates even the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Multitasking is handled by 8GB or 12GB of LPDDR5 RAM and you get up to 256GB of storage, which unlike other Realme phones is not expandable with microSD. That confusing omission is unfortunate.
All of this power is kept at an optimal temperature by a stainless steel-copper composite, improving cooling by 50% compared to phones that use pure copper for cooling. Don’t get me wrong, it still runs pretty warm if you put the GT through its paces, but I didn’t experience any slowdown because of overheating. Even at its warmest, everything ran at full-speed.
Realme GT: Battery Life & Charging
The Realme GT is armed for endurance with a 4,500 mAh battery and 65W SuperDart charger. Alongside these, it supports OTG reverse charging for keeping Qi-compatible earbuds or wearables alive on-the-go.
Personally, I would have loved to see the 5,000 mAh battery from the Realme 8 5G make the jump over for a little extra juice, but Realme’s power efficiency means you will confidently make it through an entire day with around 20-25% battery left.
This is achieved through some small but worthwhile tweaks like variable CPU frequency adjustment, optimising the screen refresh rate based on what you’re doing and smartly freezing idle applications in the background.
As for the charging, promises are made of reaching a full charge in 35 minutes, but in reality, you’re looking at an average of 45 minutes to reach 100%. That’s still impressively fast, though!
Realme GT: Cameras
Reportedly, this GT isn’t going to be the *only* flagship killer Realme releases this year?
Rumors are circulating about a camera-focused flagship launching in July, which would make a couple cutbacks on the internals in favour of a top-of-the-line camera system.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the system here is OK, but not amazing. The triple camera array around the back consists of a 64MP primary camera with an f/1.8 aperture, an 8MP ultra-wide lens at f/2.3 and a 2MP macro shooter.
As has become customary for Realme, there is a lot of software at work. Every picture gets the boosted color treatment, and you can channel your creative side with time lapse shots and portrait mode pictures.
Ultimately, the results are good enough for most people. Snap-happy photographers may lament the ISO noise on particular photos and the overly saturated color reproduction. If you’re in that camp, you can turn off the AI features, but for the rest of us who just take snaps of friends and family antics, photos turn out fine.
Plus, the 16MP front-facing camera does a good enough job without any kind of software fiddling in the background to try and make you look better.
Video quality is decent too — you can shoot up to 4K at 60 frames per second, with the clips you capture being a little jittery because of the lack of true optical image stabilisation, but with plenty of crisp detail and color.
If I could give some advice to Realme here, it’s to strip back the AI photography options and offer optical image stabilization.
Realme GT: Realme UI 2.0
Using the Realme UI 2.0 skin on top of Android 11 doesn’t mean you’re getting the same experience every time. The Realme 8 Pro was a clean experience, whereas the Realme 8 5G was a bloatware-laden mess.
Luckily, the Realme GT is more on the former end of that scale with only a couple of pre-installed social media apps and some Realme clones that you can easily uninstall.
That makes it easy to enjoy the close-to-stock cleanliness of the experience and some of the best and easy-to-use customisation features.
How long will the Realme GT be supported for? So far, we’ve received confirmation that you can install the Android 12 beta, meaning support for the next version is secure.
Realme CEO Madhav Sheth has also told The Mobile Indian that phones will receive “at least one major Android update and security patches for two years.” This, when compared with most OEMs committing to two major Android updates, is a little disappointing, so hopefully we see a change of course on this.
My relationship with Realme has been hit-or-miss over the last few months, as you can read in my Realme 8 Pro and Realme 8 5G reviews. That is why I’m so blown away by the Realme GT. This phone is an absolute beast and the flagship killer we all need right now.
Of course, the GT cuts some corners as all phones at this price do. Realme stripped back the premium materials and gave us a middle-of-the-road camera, in order to go with the best internals, battery and display.
It’s worth repeating that all of this is available for under €500! If you’re in the market for a new phone and don’t want to spend four figures, do yourself a favor and consider the Realme GT — you will not be disappointed.